“A Hijacking” tells its tale as plainly as its title, without Hollywood action, without true heroes or villains, without the expected emotional button-pushing (there’s hardly even any music on the soundtrack.) What it is an authentic, suspenseful film about seemingly real people dealing with an unreal situation.
Mikkel is the cook on a ship heading for Mumbai. Peter is the CEO of the company that owns the ship. When Somali pirates storm the ship, Mikkel is appropriately terrified. Back in Denmark, Peter demands to handle the ransom negotiations himself over the objections of his counter-terrorism adviser. We’ve just seen Peter close a big deal, and he seems like the right man for the job, almost superhumanly unflappable.
But as days turn into weeks, weeks into months, the tension takes its toll on Peter. Meanwhile, back on the ship, Mikkel must learn to cope with constant terror. The Somali translator Omar is almost kindly, insisting this is a business transaction. The rifles being brandished say otherwise.
One would assume writer-director Tobias Lindholm would keep most of the movie on the ship, since that’s where the action is. But he wrings a surprising amount of suspense out of the board room as well, often building drama through the separation between the two locations. Mikkel, trapped on the ship, can’t understand why his boss doesn’t just pay the money. Peter’s only connection to his crew is a shaky phone connection; at one point, we hear a gunshot over the line, but don’t find out what happened until several scenes later.
The press notes say some of the actors involved in the film have lived through similar experiences; the actor who plays the counter-terrorism adviser used to be one. You can tell right away; this is a film that doesn’t use Hollywood conventions to let the viewer off easily.